On the first Saturday of every month, Mark will write about a topic of interest to Packers fans and the organization, and then answer five fan questions. Fans are encouraged to email Mark with their name and hometown at: MurphyTakes5@packers.com
Later this month, NFL owners, head coaches and executives will gather in Phoenix for the League's annual meeting. During the meeting, the owners will vote on proposed rule changes. In this year's meeting, instant replay will be a major topic of discussion, as there are 13 proposals relating to instant replay. The proposals include one that proposed that all plays be subject to review, while several others propose that some or all penalties be reviewable, and one would make the expiration of the play clock reviewable.
Instant replay was established in the NFL in order to correct obvious, game-changing officiating mistakes. In the mid-1980s, there were mistakes in a number of playoff games that impacted the outcomes, which prompted the League to implement the system. The instant replay system has been tweaked over the years, with a major change occurring in 2011 with the decision to make all scoring plays and touchdowns automatically reviewed (without a coach's challenge).
In recent years, with advancing technology, there have been more proposals to expand the replay system. With the advent of HD cameras, as well as increases in the number of cameras, the argument is that we should be able to correct all officiating mistakes, or at least let a coach challenge plays where he thinks there was a mistake. The argument against utilizing advanced technology is that the foundation of the system (with a standard of undisputable visual evidence) was to correct officiating mistakes that dealt with objective facts, like whether a player crossed the goal line or had two feet inbounds. By expanding instant replay to penalties, opponents say that you will be reviewing subjective decisions made by officials (such as whether a defensive back interfered with a receiver). In essence, you would be replacing the judgment of the on-field official with that of the replay official. Another concern with the expansion of instant replay is that it could lead to longer games.
The discussions in Phoenix regarding instant replay should be very interesting. The discussions are often very emotional, as teams have been negatively impacted by officiating errors in the past. It is easy to forget in these discussions how difficult a job our NFL game officials have, and how well they (and the officiating office) perform under stressful conditions.
It's the classic case of progress versus tradition. Is modern technology advancing the game or changing it for the worse?
Now, on to your questions:
John from Washington, DC
What do you think of Mike McCarthy's decision to give up the play calling?
I have to admit, John, that I was surprised when Mike told me that he had decided to give up the play calling. He's an excellent play caller and I know that he really enjoys calling the plays. I always thought that his play calling was one of the biggest advantages we had as a team. The more I've thought about it, though, I think the decision makes sense. First, the change will allow him to be more involved in our defense and special teams, both during the week and on game day, and to better manage the overall game on game day. Also, Tom Clements, the new play caller, and Mike have worked together for Mike's entire tenure as head coach and have a great working relationship. Also, Edgar Bennett and Alex Van Pelt are talented coaches who are ready to take on more responsibilities. I also think having a quarterback with Aaron Rodgers' experience and intelligence was an important factor in the decision, and will help us continue to be successful on offense. Mike's decision shows me that he is evolving as a leader and continuing to look for ways to improve the team.
Emily from Appleton, WI
I was sorry to see that the Brett Favre Hall of Fame induction dinner in the Atrium was sold out. Why couldn't you move it into the stadium bowl?
Thanks, Emily. I've heard from a lot of fans about this issue. First, the induction ceremony is run by the Packers Hall of Fame Inc., a separate organization from the Packers, so any changes would have to be agreed upon by Hall of Fame Inc. and the Packers. You may have seen that it was recently announced that a number of additional viewing opportunities are now available for fans. While the induction ceremony will still be held in the Atrium, we will sell tickets ($4) for fans to watch the ceremony on the video boards in the stadium. Brett has agreed to go into the bowl to address fans during the dinner. Also, the ceremony will be broadcast live on the Packers Broadcast Network by the Journal Broadcast Group, as well as the NFL Network and streamed live on Packers.com. I believe this was a fair compromise, and will allow many more of our fans to share in the excitement of the evening. The biggest challenge with having the dinner and ceremony in the stadium was related to weather. If we had a thunderstorm, it would have delayed the event for several hours, causing problems for fans and television. Also, it would have been almost impossible for Delaware North, our concessionaire, to serve the dinner in the bowl, other than serving everyone out of the concession stands.
I know that our fans are excited about Brett coming back to Green Bay for these special honors (induction and number retirement). As Bob Harlan stated, it should be an historic night.
Kevin from Milwaukee
I've seen you comment about variable pricing and how it can help with fans' complaints about the quality of play in the preseason. Will the Packers move to variable pricing this season?
Great question, Kevin. Variable pricing (lower prices for preseason games and higher prices for premium regular-season games) is something that a number of teams have moved to over the past two years. While we continue to study this option, we have decided not to move to variable pricing for 2015. We see a couple of challenges with variable pricing that are unique to us. First, with two season-ticket packages (Green, seven games, and Gold, three games), it is difficult to find a pricing scheme that is equitable to both groups of season-ticket holders. Also, with our Brown County seats (determined through a lottery), Brown County residents would pay significantly different prices depending on what game they were selected to attend. We will continue to study this issue as well as the experiences of the teams (and their fans) that have moved to variable pricing.
Jerry from Green Bay
Good morning. My question for you is, now that we are in the offseason, what is your main focus as President?
Jerry, this is another question that I am often asked. The earlier part of the offseason is a busy time for me. I always attend the Super Bowl, since it is such an important event for the League and there are typically a number of League meetings. It is much more enjoyable to go to the Super Bowl when the Packers are playing in it, though. A lot of my work in the offseason has to do with getting ready for the annual meeting in March. I'm on a couple of committees (Competition and Health & Safety) that meet for two separate weeks in February and March. We review the past season and prepare the proposals for the League meeting. Our annual budget process takes place immediately following the season, and takes a number of months to complete. Most personnel changes take place in the offseason, so there are typically a number of searches to complete. Although I'm not directly involved in the draft process, I do attend the combine, as there are many meetings around the combine since many people involved with the League are there. I also stay very busy in the offseason with Board meetings, including monthly Executive Committee meetings. Also, in recent years, I've been very busy with plans for the construction projects at Lambeau Field. This offseason, I've spent a lot of time planning for the completion of the new Hall of Fame and restaurant. Although the NFL is a year-round business, mid-June to mid-July is the down time for most people, and when most employees take their vacations.
Holten from Carmel, IN
Hi, Mr. Murphy. What's better, Aaron Rodgers' mustache or Clay Matthews' hair?
Very tough call, Holten. They are both exquisite in their own way. Aaron's mustache has the added benefit of bringing attention to an important cause – he grows his mustache as part of the "Movember" campaign for prostate cancer awareness. However, if pushed, I would have to say Clay's hair since it clearly means so much to him.